Monday, August 30, 2010

A Drink Connoisseur's Equipment

I feel obliged to say sorry for a lack of posts recently but due to vacation and enjoying summer while it's here, my attention was away from my laptop. But I'll begin my momentum with a post about how I drink my drinks. I think my particular approach to each variety of drink and that variety's type of drink being exclusive to all other types is only fair to everyone reading and the label selling the beverage. Experiencing drinks these ways brings out all of the notes. There are reasons for so many different shaped glasses. Lets start with one that's easiest to understand in my mind: Tea.
Almost all of the tea I review (and drink on my own time) is loose, so you have to find an alternative to a tea bag of course. After trying out many different ways like tea bags you fill yourself, tea balls, and other infusers I settled on this one. I found Bodum's Yo-Yo to be best because it lets the tea float more freely and you can pour the hot watter over the leaves so it does a better job at letting the tea do its work. As for each different type of tea I typically follow what the label says. Usually it's black and herbal teas are with boiling water, green and oolong is at 180°, and white is closer to 170°. Typically the suguested time is about 3-5 minutes and not left in afterwards (but I personally prefer to leave rooibos and hibiscus in longer), white is 5 or more minutes though. One thing that seems to go against common sense is to boil water freshly filtered and from the tap, not any bottled watter. This is because tap water has more oxygen in it and will pick up the taste better.
Liquors are very versatile on your palate ranging anywhere from black licorice (absinthe) to plain smoke (bourbon), so almost each one is approached differently. Clear liquors are compared on the rocks or straight and in a typical cocktail (ex: gin in a martini) because that's how they're frequently enjoyed as a drink. (If you're just taking shots, you're not enjoying the taste). Single malt whiskeys are analyzed in the Glencairn glass (pictured above) with a touch of purified water that brings out a lot of taste. Otherwise it's usually on the rocks or straight.

Beer and wine have too many different types of glasses to picture and explain in one post, but I'll go over some of the more unique ones. Pilsner glasses are ideal for lagers because it helps to bring out the head and keep it around longer through being slender. Champagne flutes help keep sparkling wine carbonated through less surface area so it stays fizzy longer. The other end of the stemware and beer glass spectrum with it's tulip shapes are saved for the robust drinks like cabernet wine and Belgian ales because with the middle of the bowl being wider than the mouth makes the smell more concentrated. This way it's easier to single out and identify what makes it up. As for temperature, beer is just from the fridge and most white wines are slightly chilled (not as cold as beer).
Now last, but certainly not least, is how to prepare coffee. I think buying a fine bean, griding it when you get home and making it in a coffee maker two days latter is an insult to it. A freshly ground bean in a French press makes a nice strong cup with that foam you don't get through any other method. Somehow this makes my coffee experiences three-dimensional and I can pick up more notes from my cup. The only thing I'll say about sugar and cream is that some people should be looking up reviews on different brands of sugar and creamers because they're just adding a touch of coffee with their sugar and cream! (P.S. I only put a tiny drop of half & half in my coffee)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Fire Light Chai

Zhena's Gypsy Tea has a rooibos chai this time. And this makes perfect sense to me, rooibos is caffeine free and chai has two settings in my opinion, on a cold winter day or a at the end of a long one to relax. Now regular tea chai has a little caffeine due to the tea leaves, so this might be a better choice! But my job is to tell you how it tastes, not the health benefits and how it fits in your day.

I expected to detect cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger as soon as I opened the tin but once steeped the rooibos set this apart from other chai. Not in the smell but the flavor, the nuttiness of rooibos played a great part with the other spices. The cinnamon wasn't overpowering like other chai and overall this had a great composure. As I had guessed, Zhena's website said there was some orange peel in this too. It's hard to sense because it works with the sweet, but I believe it still makes a difference.

This one will be in my cup while I read a book or listen to George Winston's relaxing soundtracks. I give it a B (good) because I'm not typically a fan of chai because they're usually too sweet for me, but this one is quite balanced.

TAZO Orange Blossom

Some of you may have noticed tins of TAZO tea while waiting in line at Starbucks. This is due to the growing popularity of loose leaf tea, and Starbucks it hopping on the bandwagon. Today I have a cup of their Orange Blossom green tea in front of me to review and it smells like a good way to end the day.

As I said the fragrance is very nice but not orange, jasmine. Orange is there too but blends with the sweetness of the jasmine. Once on your tongue you can tell it's a green tea, I think it's a jasmine pearl like this one. Looking at the leaves themselves they're not pearls though. The lighter fruit taste isn't just oranges (tangerines) though. I believe other fruits are there as well with many herbal supplements.

TAZO has plenty of fine teas, but I think this one scores better as a frankincense than tea. The aura put off by this is fantastic but the taste of the tea doesn't follow up with it. TAZO's Orange Blossom gets a C (decent).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yellow Tail Tree-Free Chardonnay

Tree-free? Is Yellow Tail going green and helping to save the world!?! Well, not that Yellow Tail is a bad company but tree-free means not aged in oak like almost all chardonnays it seems. This could be a good turn, the fuller body of chardonnay with fruitier notes but not as dry as some lighter grapes. Lets find out.

Upon pouring this chilled, my senses would've told me this was pinot grigio if I didn't know otherwise. Very crisp and dry smelling in a 'sneezing' way. The palate showed melon notes in addition to the crisp, but I didn't find it very enjoyable on its own. After pouring another glass once room temperature I found it a little better. The melon could be detected in the scent and was stronger on the tongue. It has a very dry aftertaste chilled and at room temperature.

I'm leaving this with a C (decent) because I think aging in oak might be the way for chardonnay. Although fruitier it was rather simple wine and the citrus with melon didn't work well together.